What Is In A Healthy Heart Diet?
Learn what is in a healthy heart diet and start new eating habits to prevent the development of heart disease.
- Limit unhealthy fats. Saturated and trans fats have no place in a healthy heart diet. Limit the amount of these fats in your diet to lower your cholesterol. The American Heart Association guidelines suggest no more than seven percent of your daily calorie intake come from saturated fat; only one percent should be comprised of trans fats. Additionally, cholesterol intake should be limited to 300 milligrams or less daily.
- Include healthy proteins. Protein is good for the body, but try filling your daily quota with low-fat alternatives to red meat. Good choices include low-fat or fat-free dairy products, fish and legumes.
- Eat healthy fats such as monounsaturated and omega-3 essential oils. Eating fish has the added benefit of providing omega-3 fatty acids in the diet, which reduce the risk of heart disease, according to the Mayo Clinic. Most people do not get nearly enough omega-3 fatty acids in their diets.
- Choose whole grain foods. These provide fiber and nutrients which play a vital role in heart health. Whole grain bread, pasta and oatmeal are all healthy and easy to add to the diet.
- Limit sugar. Foods containing sugar also often contain high levels of unhealthy fat and cholesterol. They are often processed foods with high calorie contents and little nutritive value. Eat these foods only occasionally for a healthy heart diet.
- A healthy heart diet should be largely comprised of fruits and vegetables, preferably fresh. These foods contain vitamins, minerals, fibers and other chemicals that increase cardiovascular health and lower the risk of heart disease. Eat them as snacks and at most meals to get the recommended number of these important foods in your healthy heart diet on a daily basis.
- Maintain proper calorie intake for a healthy heart diet. You should be able to maintain your weight within a reasonable range on your diet. If you are losing or gaining significant amounts of weight, you need to reassess your diet strategy. Of course, if you need to lose weight, you should do so safely, at a rate of 1/2 to two pounds per week, on average. Weight maintenance is important for a strong heart and healthy cardiovascular system.
- Limit your salt. High levels of sodium in the diet can cause damage and increase the risk of heart disease. A heart healthy diet should limit sodium intake to 2400 milligrams or less per day.
- Limit consumption of food additives and chemicals. Most processed foods contain ingredients such as MSG, caffeine or high-frutose corn syrup, all of which can have a negative effect on your healthy heart diet. Keep such foods to a minimum in your diet, opting instead for fresh foods in their natural state whenever possible.
- Follow the guidelines set forth in the food pyramid. This is an easy way to gauge the progress you've made in your healthy heart diet. You daily food intake should closely align to the parameters set forth in the food pyramid. In general, focus on whole grains, vegetables and fruits. Add some dairy and protein foods and keep the remaining foods to a minimum.
Posted on: Apr. 28, 2010